Jet Osman: 3D-artist

24 Jan

Everyone has a story on the Islington Faces Blog.  Red-haired Jet Osman is a grandmother, committed vegetarian (she calls herself a “virtual vegan”), cat-lover and new for 2013 determined to get a piece of her typically 3D-art exhibited at the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition (10 June- 18 August 2013). The work’s finished – it’s a spider – so fingers crossed. Interview by Nicola Baird

Crocheted electric cable used by 3D artist Jet Osman.

Crocheted electric cable used by 3D artist Jet Osman.

Red-haired Jet Osman is a grandmother, committed vegetarian (she calls herself a “virtual vegan”), cat-lover and new for 2013 determined to get a piece of her typically 3D-art exhibited at the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition. The work’s finished – it’s a spider – so fingers crossed. Interview by Nicola Baird

“I grew up in Holland, north of Amsterdam,” explains Jet Osman who moved to the UK in 1960 to “perfect my English.” She spent three months working as an au pair with a family in Stratford-upon-Avon, but was missing the bright lights so decided to move to London. Parisian friends had given her a contact and “lo and behold, they just needed an au-pair”. Jet liked the family. She met lots of their friends, some of whom had vintage cars so found herself invited along to vintage car rallies which she loved.

Here Jet points to the mantelpiece which has a colour photo of her Triumph Spitfire which she only recently sold. “I love driving and I loved that little car. I’d always wanted a sports car” – she finally fulfilled that particular dream after several years of hard but fun work making and selling hand-dyed goodies in Covent Garden Market, where Jet owns a fashion stall, now for sale.

“I only recently sold the car because it kept being vandalised in the street as it was so different from other cars. And of course parking and humps, the latter really spoiled driving in London for me, so bus was easier, particularly with a freedom pass! I also used to have a Vespa in the late ‘50s. My little sports car and my Vespa were my favourite means of transport.”

After au pairing she found a job in London that was “dull” but made use of her Dutch. “At some point I met Brian. We lived in Gray’s Inn Road, Bloomsbury for a bit, then when I was pregnant with Sebastian – our little boy who died – we looked for another place and came to Islington. I’ve been here 47 years now and this is where our younger son Alex grew up.”

The flat is not far from Highbury Pool, where Jet swims regularly, or Waitrose which she loves to use for its range of vegetarian food. Although it has no central heating the sitting room is made cosy from an oil-filled electric radiator and a little electric blow heater. By the bay window there is a pair of implausibly high fake leopard-skin platforms, bought from a second hand shop on Holloway Road, which her adored granddaughters, aged 12 and 15, like to try modelling. Behind the shoes and a cuddly toy for her cat Ottilie, named after a favourite Scottish jazz singer, is an old spinning wheel. The shelves boast a collection of Jet’s art – one I love is made from crocheted electrical cable. Jet calls it Stress – having nestled a red ball inside the crochet coils to signify the pain of an ulcer, but the look from a distance is similar to bleached coral reef.

The walls are white, as is the carpet, but the ceiling is painted with sun-tinted clouds. It’s very restful sitting on the sofa turning your attention from the clouds to the view outside – today snowflakes are falling softly. “I didn’t paint the clouds,” admits Jet, “but I had the idea. That’s the best for anything but my own art – to have the idea and then get someone else to execute it!”

Jet’s artistic style is to use “whatever I like the look of, so I can do quite a lot of work at home, here in Islington. But for some of the more toxic materials or specialist tools I go to a studio in Chelsea one day a week.”

“I’ve done loads of travelling,” she adds, and as the decorations in her flat suggest. “I did have the idea of living in India because there was a lovely house, and the same in Turkey. But I’m best off in London. I love going away but I love coming back. I’m not really a country person, there are too many creepy crawlies.” And on that note Jet gets ready to head off into the cold to see if her spider – named Incubus – can weave a spot for itself at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

Over to you
Have you had a dream you fulfilled in Islington?  By the way, if you’d like to feature on this blog, or make a suggestion about anyone who grew up, lives or works in Islington please let me know, via nicolabaird.green@gmail.com. Thank you. And yes, this blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

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5 Responses to “Jet Osman: 3D-artist”

  1. John Edwards January 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Nicola

    John Edwards here, Miriam and Catherines dad. Just to say that I really like reading the blog, and finding out more about local people. I look forward to the next one

    John

    On 24/01/2013 12:20, “Islington Faces Blog” wrote:

    > homemadekids posted: “Red-haired Jet Osman is a grandmother, committed > vegetarian (she calls herself a virtual vegan), cat-lover and new for 2013 > determined to get a piece of her typically 3D-art exhibited at the Royal > Academys summer exhibition (10 June- 18 August 2013). T” >

    • homemadekids January 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks so much John for this lovely piece of feedback. Really glad to have you reading these interviews. Let me know if there’s anyone you know who you think would be a good person to interview. Nicola

  2. David redfern June 10, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Lovely to read best wishes David

  3. David Reddfern June 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    can you let Jet know I loved the blog, please. I used to be a neighbour
    David Redfern seafest@aol.com

    • homemadekids June 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Of course David, thanks for the feedback. Nicola

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